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Archive for March, 2013

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

T’was grace that taught my heart to fear.

And grace, my fears relieved.

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares

I have already come;

‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far

and grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.

His word my hope secures.

He will my shield and portion be,

As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

And mortal life shall cease,

I shall possess within the veil,

A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years

Bright shining as the sun.

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we’ve first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

~ John Newton (1725-1807)

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“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Have you ever seen thousands of cell phones light up an auditorium or pictures of what cities at night look like from space, as a satellite travels around the globe?  I wonder, as believers in the gospel of Christ, what does our “light” look like to God?

Do selfless acts of kindness, mercy, enduring love, patience, courage, sacrifice, and faith, shine a stunning light that we cannot see? How bright is this cumulative beaming of God’s Spirit in us? Perhaps it is hidden to us and revealed to God, like x-rays or MRIs reveal what is hidden to the human eye. Could it be that our choices, actions, and attitudes shine a light in this world that outshines all the glitter and hoopla promoted by greed and self-interest?

I ask myself: What in my life will beam the light of Jesus, upward and outward? Do my prayers shine a light? Do my interactions with others shine? Does my life reveal a selfish or generous heart? Does it grab and absorb the attention of others like a black hole or truly let the love of God shine through?

Lord, help me today to please You in all that I do, all that I am, and all that I say.  Amen

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,

Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine,

Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine,

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

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“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly beloved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

Throughout my life, I have thought it hard to live up to the challenge of achievement set by my three older sisters. That certainly pales in comparison to being an imitator of God!  Christ’s human life, His willingness to go to the cross and die for our sins, was a life of love; it was a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  It was the epitome of a love-motivated sacrifice.

Does my life reveal to God my genuine love for His mercy and grace?  Is it a sweet offering of love, humility, and sacrifice?  Do my actions leave behind a pleasing fragrance or an offensive odor?  Do I leave an influence, a memory, with others that points them to God, or have I really worked to bring the attention to myself?  How do I smell to God?  If we are to love like God loves us, I think it helps to ask ourselves: “How has God loved me?”

Because He has been…

Merciful………………………………….will I set aside my own expectations and prejudices?

Compassionate……..……………………will I be generous in the way I see others?

Patient.…………………………………..will I be tolerant of frustrations and irritations?

Kind, gracious.……………will I take the time to be thoughtful, attentive, generous?

Tender, forgiving, encouraging.………..will I be that?

Strong when I am weak.….…………….will I bolster others who feel weak or broken?

Present in my joys and sorrows….will I show up at important times in another’s life?

I volunteer at a local nursing home. God has shown me He wants to bring the light of His love into a place that desperately needs hope and encouragement.  I walk around looking for patients, family, or staff who might want to chat awhile, sitting down for a visit when invited.  This past week, it seemed that everyone was grumpy, and no one really had time or wanted to talk.  I left, questioning what I was doing there. God revealed to me that I hadn’t been praying, but rather just going about my business, taking it for granted that He was using this effort of mine. As I was pondering Ephesians 5:1, in preparation to write this blog, I asked God to let His love shine through me.

Recognizing that I needed something greater than good intentions in order to bring something truly worthwhile to the people I met, I relied on Christ to give me love, sensitivity to the Spirit’s moving, and patience to listen.  The next time I went to the nursing home, the depth of the conversations I had with people was wonderful!  We talked about heaven, about trusting God in the waiting times of our lives, about loss and God’s comfort, and I prayed with them. They seemed genuinely grateful to have someone pray for them. God showed me that it is His love, and His Spirit in us, that brings the fragrance of Christ into the world. Wherever you find yourself this week, open yourself to the opportunities God provides to spread the marvelous aroma of Christ.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” II Corinthians 2:14-15

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“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

From the minute the alarm clock goes off and our feet hit the floor, we women are “BUSY”! There is so much to do and only one of us to get it all accomplished.  This world expects perfection and all you have to do is log into social media to see post after post about what we did today. Full-time career, 20 dozen cookies made, 18 loads of laundry completed, and 5 acres of lawn mowed all before lunch time!! Really??  I don’t know about you, but for me there is a lot of pressure to feel like you have to keep up.  The dangers of being “busy” are that you begin to neglect your mind, your soul, and the woman that God created you to be.

I have fallen into this trap several times over in my life. Every night before bed, I would make a mental to-do list of what I needed to get done the following day. There would be days where on that list “quiet time with God” was not written down.  My bathrooms sparkled, my laundry was done, but my heart was empty and my mind was depleted.  I needed to be renewed by my Heavenly Father.

This changed for me when I realized that in Romans 12:1-2 it says, “Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, and going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering” (The Message). Wow! Take MY ordinary life and give it to God as an offering??  Does God really want MY to-do list or does He want MY heart? The answer was clear; my heart is what He desired.  All the “busyness” in my life wasn’t glorifying God.  My time spent with Him alone, praying, talking, giving Him my burdens, and celebrating answers to prayer…that is when my renewal began.

My to-do list is still made, but the first thing on it is my time with God and nothing gets done before that time is completed.  Soon after changing my priorities and putting God first every day, that list didn’t seem so important to me.  I got done what I could but was no longer a slave to being “busy.” God brings out the best in me and will do the same for you.  Put the laundry detergent down, step away from the washing machine, get on your knees and ask God to renew your soul. Don’t panic ladies! The laundry will still be there when you are done asking, but God will begin to renew YOU from the inside out.

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“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” II Corinthians 10:5

Thoughts…words filled with ideas. They are powerful enough to direct a pathway of life! As early as I can remember, thoughts were a powerful thing in my life. There was much sadness and discord. I did not know how to deal with some of the thoughts I had. As I grew older, they were filled with fear and unworthiness, so much so that my decisions were sometimes derived from such desperation. It was as if I were crippled in my mind.

And then, there was pride…another array of emotions! Selfishness was the strongest, and for a while, it overtook the fear, masking reality and creating neglect of what were the most important and the most valued in my life, all because I did not know how to take captive my thoughts! Then I truly found God. I started to realize the power He alone gives to those who walk with Him, but more to those who put their trust in Him. I realized I was not alone. I was strong, not in me, but in Him through the love of Jesus! I began to take every thought captive as I obeyed Christ.

You see, beloved, now I sound like Paul. We all encounter circumstance, and some of us allow it to rule and direct our path. It, at times, is filled with all that Satan wants for us, creating heartbreak and despair, stealing our dreams and our joy, and allowing the navigational path that God wants for our life to be altered for his.

So I humbly suggest, when thoughts arise and emotions begin stirring, we must ask ourselves, “Are we obeying the circumstance, or are we obeying Christ?” Obeying the circumstance captivates us with fear, worry, and sometimes prideful behavior; obeying Christ captivates us with His peace, allowing His lead…not ours!

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“We live by faith, not by sight.” II Corinthians 5:7

A few years ago, I was driving the midnight shift home from a family vacation in Florida.  It’s a long drive, 23 hours in a car full of exhausted, hungry, and sunburned kids.  Towards the end of this drive you are longing to be home in your own bed, safe and sound.  As God would have it, and only one hour from home, we hit one of the worst storms I have ever seen.  The winds were howling, and the rain was coming down in full sheets of water.  I had absolutely zero visibility on the highway.  I began to panic and felt a real fear set in …there was no end in sight…there was no road in sight.

Isn’t being blinded on the highway so much like real life?  We fear what we can’t see; we fear the unknown.  These days we rely so heavily on our navigation systems in the car to show us the way, directing us to safety. We are constantly trying to take control of our lives because we think we know what we need.  When the plans for our lives are not revealed in a perfect spreadsheet or the path we are on seems to have no end, we get uncomfortable. We fear, we panic, and WE NEED JESUS.

That night on the highway, I called out to Jesus in the midst of my fear and panic. He answered my call by lighting up the skies with the most magnificent lightning I have ever witnessed. It was just enough light to get me safely off the highway and to a gas station so I could rest and regroup.

Walking by faith and not by sight isn’t always easy.  Matter of fact, it can be incredibly difficult, especially if you are experiencing a trial in your life.  But what you can always count on is that our Lord and Savior is just waiting for us to call upon Him.  He will supply you with strength, guidance, wisdom, and anything else that you need to light your path.  He is our rock, the place to rest and regroup. The path you are on may be long and bumpy, but our Savior is strong and He can handle the ride. Trust Him. Call upon Him. He is waiting…

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“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” I John 3:1

As we wrap up our final week of devotions celebrating, remembering, and reflecting on who we are in Christ, we focus today on the indescribable privilege of being called a child of God. When we accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we are adopted into the royal family of God. We are daughters of the King!

That the King of Kings would choose me, love me, and call me His child humbles and amazes me. John marveled at this truth in I John 3, and I too find myself in wonder at the mighty love of a Savior that would rescue a sinner like me. It seems this truth impacted contemporary Christian artist, Matthew West, as well.

In the fall of 2012, my family was given tickets to attend a Matthew West concert in Flint, Michigan. It was a first for each of us to hear the popular Christian artist sing, and it was surely a moving experience. We left refreshed and blessed by the message put forth through his music, and we purchased his album, Into the Light. One song in particular struck a chord with my 9-year-old son. The song, entitled “Hello, My Name Is,” quickly became his favorite. When I entered his room in the weeks that followed, the song would be playing. When we traveled to and from school, he would ask that we play the song. I certainly obliged, so grateful that my son was listening to and perhaps embracing the very truth spoken in the lyrics of this song. The song, which was recently released to Christian radio only weeks ago, is posted below. As you read the words, may God remind you of His deep and abiding love. You are His child…His daughter….Oh, that we would be humbled today by this magnificent truth!

Verse 1:

Hello, my name is regret

I’m pretty sure we have met

Every single day of your life

I’m the whisper inside

That won’t let you forget

Hello, my name is defeat

I know you recognize me

Just when you think you can win

I’ll drag you right back down again

‘Til you’ve lost all belief

These are the voices, these are the lies

And I have believed them, for the very last time

Chorus:

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free

“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

Verse 2:

I am no longer defined

By all the wreckage behind

The one who makes all things new

Has proven it’s true

Just take a look at my life

Chorus:

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free

“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

Bridge:

What love the Father has lavished upon us

That we should be called His children

I am a child of the one true King

What love the Father has lavished upon us

That we should be called His children

Chorus:

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free

“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

I am a child of the one true King

[ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/hello-my-name-is-lyrics-matthew-west.html ]

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